Weekend Open Forum: What's your backup strategy? You do have one, right?

By on December 11, 2009, 8:49 PM
In recent weeks we've shown you two very different hardware solutions for safeguarding and sharing computer data depending on the scale of your actual needs. The first device was a rugged, portable hard drive aimed at road warriors who need to take their storage on the harshest of environments. The second, an impressive 8-bay NAS station targeted at businesses that require nothing but the highest levels of performance and capacity.

Depending on your budget and requirements there's a host of other technologies you could opt for when planning your backup strategy, be it a secondary hard drive on your computer, flash drives, a home server, or even plain old CDs and DVDs. But of course, hardware is just one part of the equation -- you'll have to install some sort of software to handle backups automatically or train yourself into performing them manually on a regular basis.

Everyone's got their own approach for ensuring their personal files are kept safe from disaster, but is there truly a perfect backup solution? In this edition of our Weekend Open Forum we want you to share your backup strategy -- if you even have one. Mine is rather simple and admittedly not perfect. Media and any other large files go straight to a stationary external hard drive (which I'll have to replace soon), while smaller day-to-day personal and work-related stuff is automatically backed up online and available everywhere through my Dropbox account. How about yourself?

User Comments: 48

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Basher said:

I don't have a full backup strategy, since I'm too poor to afford a couple TB in extra harddrives. On the other hand, anything really important is stored in my dropbox, which if you don't have one and use multiple computers, GET ONE! www.dropbox.com

blackcat77 said:

Windows Home Server -- backs up all three of our computers in full every day. By far the most useful component I have ever purchased.

zaidpirwani said:

I have a good (not great) backup system in place, which I setup right after the failure of my primary hard disk and also then my motherboard:

1: I keep all important critical documents on my 8GB Corsair Voyager, with 3 extra copies, one on my home PC, one on my MOZY(https://mozy.com/?code=EXM3G8) backup server and one on another computer(off-site)

2: All of my purchased software and games etc are backed up into my 1TB Pocket drive, which is kept off-site, did I mention there are 2 of those drives on different locations

3: Everything is synced by using SyncBack Pro, so that I always have the latest version of any required file, wherever I am...

Guest said:

My laptop only has a 60GB harddrive, so I make do with regular backups to a 500GB external harddrive. I work off my flash drive in regards to uni or personal work, even if i'm using my own computer. I also email particularly important documents to myself on my gmail account or burn them onto a CD or DVD.

Guest said:

I use a local, 64-bit Windows 7 machine as a file server for 50+ GB of DSLR photos and AVCHD formatted movies along with several other data files. The server does periodic backups using Acronis as well as sending files to Carbonite (constant backups being done). Critical data documents are put in password protected archives using Acronis before going up to Carbonite servers. Using differential backups really helps to keep storage use down and backup times short. I'm primarily a Mac user so local machines are backed up using my Time Capsule but I rarely keep any critical data locally on my Macs. If I need to travel, I sync my 500GB portable with my Win7 server (only necessary files, not all those photos/movies) and use TrueCrypt to protect critical data files.

Guest said:

My backup is..

Reinstall. I don't have anything important on my computer, besides game saves. But Steam helps with that =)

I guess I usually backup all my music and photos on my phone when I really think about it. (I don't have very much, less than 500mb!)

Se7enVII said:

My solution is to keep things separate for the most part (so I don't lose everything at once):

I have an 80GB SSD with my OS/apps. I have a schedule weekly backup for this partition located on a separate 250GB hard drive. I also have a live OS on another partition located on the 250GB hard drive which was used previously before I had the 80GB SSD and I keep it just in case something goes wrong with the SSD.

I also have a 1TB hard drive which I use to store all my media/games. I don't have this stuff backed up though, but I do have a 500GB external hard drive as well which I store ISOs and install files in case I do need to reinstall my apps/games.

And lastly, I have 1TB accessible on my home network which I can store files as well. So while I don't have a full backup solution, the setup I have now works good enough -- if a hard drive or SSD does fail I won't lose everything and I can easily get most things back to normal, except for some media which I'm not too worried about.

Richy2k9 said:

hello ...

been working for a company specialized in DATA Protection & Recovery, i used to advise customers on backup plans, at that time DAT Tapes, External hard-disk racks were mostly used, yet i never did apply anything for myself until i had a HDD crash where i couldn't even put my knowledge in practice to recover more than 30% of my files.

I just don't rely on heavy capacity drives for makes me lazy to do backups & the new devices cost too much.

I made several backups on DVD-Rs, have clone copy of my system & most important files are also copied on multiple discs.

i'm sure i'll get one of those pro backup solution soon ...


dividebyzero dividebyzero, trainee n00b, said:

Guest said:

My backup is..

Reinstall. I don't have anything important on my computer, besides game saves. But Steam helps with that =)

I guess I usually backup all my music and photos on my phone when I really think about it. (I don't have very much, less than 500mb!)

Seconded. Good to live dangerously- tho disabling system restore has caused me headaches!

Puiu Puiu said:

I don't really backup my drives, but i do burn a lot dvd's (not so much lately). When i reinstall windows i just move my stuff from C to D and format C, but i am thinking to buy an external drive in the future, but i have other things i want to buy first.

anonemus said:

I burn to DVD my multimedia files. For small critical files, I use Gmail to store them

Phantasm66 Phantasm66 said:

regular backups onto 2 USB drives, which I switch over so I am never writing a backup over my only copy, plus 2 USB thumb drives of the really important stuff, so I never leave the house without a copy.

Captain828 Captain828 said:

I don't have a backup policy, but I do back up important files before I format my system drive.

In rest, I like to be careful as to not make my PC need a format too soon. I usually format my system drive whenever a new OS pops-up or I have to change my mobo or HDD.

spikester48661 spikester48661 said:

all back-ups go on 2 USB drives.and all the important files go on DVDs.

Guest said:

Partitioned hard drive, just in case, 1- 2GB &1- 8GB flash drives for newest versions of all my programs and finally, I burn all pics, docs and multimedia to DVD.

Guest said:

Windows Home Server all the way, with all important media folders (like family pics) duplicated. Everything backed up every day, painlessly, for all three computers in the house. The system totally paid for itself about a month after buying it. I clicked through on a link from a normally safe site, and had pop-ups everywhere, and my virus warning started going off - things were being infected as fast as they were quarantined. After trying in vain to get the virus software to clean the system, I simply shut down, booted from the recovery CD, and told it to format the drives and make it like it was two days previously. I went away for a few hours, and came back and it was just fine. Just the way the thing is supposed to work. It also helped with drive upgrades - tell it to do a backup, shut down, pull the old drive, put in a new one, boot from the recovery CD, and tell it to format and make it like it was at the most recent backup. Poof! A bigger drive is installed.

Xclusiveitalian Xclusiveitalian said:

I got a 320gb external hard drive were i stick all my files i want to back up and it really comes in handy! It saves money and time than having to go to a place to do it or use some program. I normally like to keep all the information together b/c splitting information up and losing it is just as bad if not worse than losing it bc of a virus on your computer. (regarding losing information)

Wendig0 Wendig0, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I use Server 2007 on an old gaming rig I retired last year. I've got a 1tb, and 1 750gb drive in it, and an external 750gb connected via eSata.. It's used as a file server primarily, and I use Acronis Backup and Recovery 10 for weekly backups. It's always on and stays nice and cool in my garage.

AfricanTech said:

1. Terabyte Hardrive + Macrium Reflect - once a month full image backup of all computers

2. 350 Gig Seagate External - copy new photos and videos after downloading using Teracopy

Technochicken Technochicken, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I use the built in windows backup tool to copy everything on both my internal dries to my external drive. I actually only started doing this a few months ago, when my 120 gig drive died and I lost 80 gigs of files, the vast majority of which were not backed up.

neowing said:

I have two external hard drive. I always backup my important data in external harddrive. However, if I keep the data for 6 months to 1 year; some file will delete without hesitate (by myself.) or buy DVD-R to store my important data.

Guest said:

Anyone looking for a Dropbox referral link (gives you & me free extra storage space), feel free to use mine here: https://www.dropbox.com/referrals/NTE4NjM0NDY5


compdata compdata, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I have an external harddrive that i back up to semi-regularly. I had to move some picture files off to DVD (2 copies each) as i ran out of space before i upgraded my computer. I am looking into a esata/usb raid 1 external enclosure for more regular storage/backup (yes i know people say raid 1 isn't a backup).

mailpup mailpup said:

At work some data is located on a server which is backed up automatically daily but my allotment has a fairly small capacity (500MB) and I don't have immediate access to the backup. That and all the other data I have that needs backing up can fit on a DVD so I backup to a DVD+RW daily. Rewritable DVDs can fail so I have three copies, two I keep at work and one I take home.

For data at home I backup to rewritable CDs and DVDs and I make two copies.

Guest said:

My back up: i have two asian guys who write down all my data on paper.

TomSEA TomSEA, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

I have a 80GB external that I backup most personal critical stuff on. Otherwise I burn onto DVD's about every other month all else. My home computer doesn't have much on it other than games so other than my game saves I'm not that worried about it. It's my work PC that carries the bulk of important stuff and it's automatically backed up each night.

ET3D, TechSpot Paladin, said:

My backup strategy involves waiting until I lose my data and then sulking.

yukka, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Guest said:

RAID 1 here!

Not picking on you but you do realise that raid 1 on its own isnt a backup strategy? If data becomes corrupt then its mirrored on both hard disks. There was a large blogging site that went down this year because they only had the information raided and they lost the lot.

I have raid 0 in my computer and backup to a sata usb caddy which lets me stick any size sata drive into its housing then copy all my important files off. The drive then goes safely on a bookshelf. The caddy is like a big plastic box with a letterbox style flap - the drives just slide in. Its alot cheaper than buying a portably hard drive.

ken777 said:

To protect from hardware failure, I make sure all my data exists on more than one spindle. My day-to-day files get backed up daily from my desktop/laptops to my file server. Big things like media files or installers are stored on the file server. Everything on the file server is mirrored weekly to a second server. To protect from stupidity, I use stuff like shadow copies, incremental daily backups going back a month, and periodic snapshots to dvd for important files. Still need to look into using something like LiveMesh or DropBox to get some offsite backups too.

SNGX1275 SNGX1275, TS Forces Special, said:

On my Mac laptop I have an external drive just for Time Machine backups.

For all my important documents I have a dropbox account, linked to 2 machines. So I have the important documents on 2 machines and online.

For everything else I have a very ugly and inefficient way of keeping things on multiple hard drives and in multiple machines.

WinXPert WinXPert said:

All important apps I use in servicing other PC's are in my USB drives. Others I burn to DVD.

kafaak said:

I got three machines at home. My main backup is Buffalo 500GB with LAN interface. Each machine is also subscribed to online backup service (2 with Mozy for free 2GB account and 1 with Carbonite for paid unlimited account).

ColdPreacher said:

I use a Home server that weekly backup my 6 computers in around the house. I also use my ftp server to back up homework i do at school (cant trust people on the public bus when im carrying around a laptop).

Guest said:

I used to have 5 HDD's that had 5 copies of everything for years. At one point i delete everything and sold the drives.

At this time, i only have pictures on 2 dvd-rw's that i update when ever i have more pictures, and my job resume that i keep up today when ever needed.

Other then that, i dont have anything to back up or worry about losing. I can always download everything else if needed.

JMMD JMMD, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Photos are stored on two different machines, each machine then has a backup drive for those pictures. Everything is backed up monthly on an external drive and stored in a fireproof safe.

mkatz2m said:

There are 2 ways that I backup my main computer. I have a second spacious drive. That makes it easy to do a perfect backup in one of 2 ways:

1. I have an old emergency Ghost 2003 bootable emergency CD/diskette. When it is time for the weekly backup (to back up the entire disk that includes the operating system and files), I simply restart the computer with either the diskette or CD and have it backup the C drive to a specific folder as image files on the D drive.

2. If you have either at least one Seagate or Maxtor drive, then you can download free of charge software from Seagate's site(they own Maxtor now). Using that software you can burn an emergency bootable CD. Like in step one, you can boot off of it and save the entire C drive into the D drive as one image file. You can also a sector by sector backup, but this is not necessary.


In both steps, if the main hard disk fails, you easily reboot with any of the emergency CDs after replacing the C drive hardware with a new drive. Within one hour, the main drive is completely restored and you do not have to configure anything. I have had this happen last year and step 1 CD made the restore simple.

poertner_1274 poertner_1274, secroF laicepS topShceT, said:

I use Allway Sync 'n' Go. It does a pretty good job at comparing filesystems. Of course this is for using where edits can be found in multiple places (portable HDD, thumb drive, etc).

I've just ordered another 1TB drive to continue backing up stuff. Unfortunately it's become a bit of a habit, although I'd rather be over zealous, than lose everything.

As far as music & photos go. I have those in 3 or 4 locations. Ya never know, and it would SUCK big time to lose all that.

Deso said:

I dont have one ;p

Guest said:

I run Cywin with SSH & rsync and backup to a friends computer. I have a backup of his data and he has a backup of my data. If my house burns down I still have my data over at his house. We both had available storage so the cost was $0. I'm running Windows 7 and he's running Linux.

LightHeart said:

I have a RAID1 configuration in my desktop computer and an external eSATA HD using Windows 7 built-in backup utility. Additionaly some data is also on CD/DVD/USB.

wcbert said:

I have two external 1TB drives I use to backup my photographs..

After 10 years of shooting digital photos and have over 50,000 - 60,000 photos. As of now this is the only way that works for me, each drive contains a copy of my photographs. My biggest concern is if something happens in my home I could lose these backup drives and then lose my photos.

I wish I could use a online backup, but could never deal with the cost of 750 MB of require storage space for my photographs. Each month my requirements of backup space increase because I shoot some more photographs.


TorturedChaos, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

I have a 300 gig external hdd that I backup my my documents onto periodically. Also have some cd/dvd backups of some files/programs I really want to keep, and are had to find. I don't really backup my games and anime I have on my computer. I know its not the best backup setup, but it works for me.

For work we have a server setup as raid 1 where all out files our kept, then also have it copy to a 300 gig hdd in another computer, that then backups via Carbonite. We would have it backup straight from the sever to Carbonite, but it wont let you backup from a newtwork drive, and they don't have a copy of their backup client that will run on Linux >_< . Only Windows......

Guest said:

I agree. Using services like drop box and skydrive are an awesome backup tool for the really important stuff.

I wrote about it here : http://www.evilmunky.com/?p=1277

mopar man mopar man, TechSpot Ambassador, said:

Guest said:

My back up: i have two asian guys who write down all my data on paper.

Epic. =)

Joachim said:

Hard drives are cheap these days!

I added a second internal HD and I use the Magic Backup online service to automatically backup any changes to my entire Documents and Settings folder daily.

The first back-up take some time but the daily, (changes only) backup takes just a couple minutes and is done in the background so you don't even notice it.


Joachim said:

Hard drives are cheap these days!

I added a second internal HD and I use the Magic Backup online service to automatically backup any changes to my entire Documents and Settings folder daily.

The first back-up take some time but the daily, (changes only) backup takes just a couple minutes and is done in the background so you don't even notice it.


ecozart said:

Online backup is the only way to go in my opinion. Hard drives are nice, but to vulnerable to real life threats. I like a true backup software like backazon.com Be careful for just "sync" sites that are passing themselves off as "backup". You need versioning to be a good backup.



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